I am often struck dumb by what passes for news these days. It’s hard sorting fact from fiction with the explosion in information available. The Internet is great to find stuff out, don’t get me wrong, but you really have to have your BS detector working in overdrive when processing information.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing of late is the speed we get news with the advent of live coverage. Not so long ago the news was history. Events were played out before we even knew about it which meant the problem (as most news is bad) was usually solved or beyond solving, so in the end, we read about it, we thought it interesting,and just got on with life. Now we are made to worry by watching, waiting and speculating, especially speculating. Some “expert” will come on and tell us how bad things will get. The general public close to the scene are asked inane questions on their take of the action, usually saying something equally stupid as the “expert”. Then we all worry , watch, wait and speculate some more, into ever decreasing circles until eventually we work out that it’s beyond our control, dinner needs to be cooked or it’s half past beer time. Old news after all is tomorrow’s fish and chips wrapper.
I made it a plan of mine some time ago to watch the news as an observer rather than be a victim of the spin, the damn lies and exaggeration rampant in what passes for news these days. Healthy scepticism is your best defence against buying the narrative that some spin doctor, news director or publicity promoter wishes you to see and accept. Politicians never lie —- all of the time, it’s just hard to tell the difference between whats truth, half truth or spin, so my default setting is to assume it’s spin until proven otherwise.
A politician once said of another,”That man has the utmost respect for the truth— and that’s why he only uses it on special occassions.”
I think there are a lot of narratives that prevail right now that stop our society from being a whole lot better. As it’s difficult not to be political mentioning some that I have identfied and get quite upset about, I will take this opportunity to only point out one that has me really concerned. That is the narrative that we need to weaken our rights to free speech to protect people from being offended, discriminated against and protected. This in my opinion is an attempt by some to mould our society into a one dimensional political correct point of view of the world. In believe that everybody has the right to say and think what they like as long as the don’t slander someone. People should also have the right to make a complete fool of themselves by saying stupid things. That is what a robust democracy is all about. People strongly opposing, defending and arguing as these are fundamental processes to arrive at the best outcomes in many areas of our lives.
Some groups seem to be scared of debate, or really are they afraid of scrutiny. Some others do not want there narrative challenged for fear of exposing weaknesses in their arguements. Some want to silence critics even to the point of wanting it to be illegal for someone to offend another person. How silly is that? Crikey, there will be no comedies left to watch for starters if we did that.
In the end I feel for our young people who don’t have enough experience to see some of the spin they fall for. Fashion and being trendy are good examples. Being cool, self important and with the “in” crowd are promoted as the “good life” when in reality it’s just someone’s opinion of what’s cool, important and who is “in”.
In summary the main message is this. Information is everywhere and sorting out the facts is not easy. Some wish to exploit us with fear and spin to achieve their own ends. Your responsibility is to sort the wheat from the chaff. Strengthen your BS detector to screen out the spin, lies and mis-information and most of all be sceptical until proven otherwise.